‘No an­nual report by UP info panel since ’05’

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times Nation - [email protected] times­group.com

New Delhi: Ut­tar Pradesh is the only state in the coun­try where its in­for­ma­tion com­mis­sion has not pub­lished any an­nual report since its in­cep­tion in 2005, said a study by Trans­parency In­ter­na­tional (In­dia) re­leased on the eve of RTI Day on Fri­day.

The report also said gov­ern­ments in Pun­jab, Tripura and Ut­tarak­hand also did not pub­lish an­nual reports of the state in­for­ma­tion com­mis­sions for five years or more even af­ter the SIC reports were tabled in the as­sem­blies. By con­trast, Ch­hat­tis­garh was the only state which pub­lished and put in pub­lic do­main, an­nual reports of the SIC from 2005 to 2018, while 9 of In­dia’s 28 states, pub­lished their reports till 2017-18.

The Right to In­for­ma­tion Act was tweaked by the gov­ern­ment in July, grant­ing the gov­ern­ment pow­ers to fix the terms and emol­u­ments of in­for­ma­tion com­mis­sion­ers. The amend­ments also pared down the sta­tus of cen­tral and state in­for­ma­tion com­mis­sion­ers from be­ing at par with the chief elec­tion com­mis­sioner and state chief sec­re­taries, a move that was de­cried by trans­parency ac­tivists as a bid to “di­lute” the trans­parency law.

The Trans­parency In­ter­na­tional report said over 3 crore RTI ap­pli­ca­tions were filed since the in­cep­tion of the law in 2005, while the num­ber of ap­peals and com­plaints to­talled over 21.32 lakh in the same pe­riod. Be­tween 2005 and 2018-19, the SICs im­posed penal­ties in 15, 578 cases on pub­lic authoritie­s, while in the last three years, Ut­tarak­hand In­for­ma­tion Com­mis­sion alone im­posed penal­ties to­talling more than Rs 81lakh.

Top 5 re­ceivers of max­i­mum num­ber of sec­ond ap­peals and com­plaints

De­spite its wide us­age, the report sug­gests that SICs are work­ing at sub-par lev­els, with 24 of 155 posts of in­for­ma­tion com­mis­sion­ers ly­ing va­cant. And though the law was put in place to al­low cit­i­zens to raise ques­tions to pub­lic authoritie­s, an anal­y­sis of web­sites of SICs on pa­ram­e­ters like user-friend­li­ness of the por­tals, online track­ing sys­tems, avail­abil­ity of an­nual reports and reg­u­lar­ity in up­dat­ing rel­e­vant doc­u­ments on the web­sites, showed that even though all states — ex­cept Bihar — have func­tional web­sites, most pro­vide no real details about their work­ing.

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